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OIS News -- May 2001


End of fiscal year procedures
Pay statements flagged
OIS support for HOLLIS enhancements and training

Aleph Implementation Project

Status report
Harvard's Aleph test system
Harvard enhancements to Aleph
Project staff appointed
Aleph conversion challenges
Test load schedule
Identifying creative uses of HOLLIS/HULPR
Data cleanup efforts
Aleph staff training -- call for trainers
Training program goals
Trainer responsibilities
Qualifications for Trainers
How to get involved

Notes & reminders

New on the OIS web site

URLs in this issue



End of fiscal year procedures

HOLLIS ILS end of fiscal year procedures are scheduled to begin on Saturday, June 30, 2001, at 6:00 p.m. The HULPR system will remain in operation Saturday until the normal shut down time of 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 1. This will allow circulation units to function normally, however, NO payment activity will be allowed after 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. Users attempting to create or modify O/P/Rs, ACUs or invoices will get a message saying 'FILE NOT AVAILABLE'.

Reconciliation between HOLLIS expenditures and the expenditures reported by the University Accounts Payable Office requires that all payments approved in HOLLIS be processed by Accounts Payable before fiscal year-end. To facilitate this, OIS recommends that no invoice approval be done after June 25, and that all approved invoices be released in batches by June 27. This will allow sufficient time for the delivery of original invoices (where applicable) to AP by 5 p.m. on Monday, July 2.

Details about the central processing associated with end of fiscal year are part of a EOFY memo distributed to HOLLIS liaisons and library financial officers in early May. If you have questions, please contact Jean Spoolstra in OIS. Ì

Pay statements flagged

Microfiche of payment statements approved between 7/01/89 and 6/30/00 were distributed on 21 May to those with subscriptions. These fiche should replace the previous set which was for dates between 7/01/89 and 12/31/99. The actual flagging of payment statements as "weedable" will be done in the next few days. Contact Maureen O'Drisceoil in OIS if you have questions. Ì

OIS support for HOLLIS enhancements and training

Since 1996 there has been no library-wide process to collect and prioritize enhancements to the HOLLIS ILS because the primary focus of OIS has been on evaluating new integrated library systems. During this time OIS has made changes to support system infrastucture (e.g., upgrading the operating system) and ongoing operations (e.g., adding circulation units), but with Aleph implementation in full swing, work on the current system must be curtailed even further. The University Library Council recently approved a new policy of limited OIS support and training for the HOLLIS ILS.

System enhancements 1996-2001

From 1996 to early 2001, OIS continued to make changes to the HOLLIS ILS in these areas:

  • to incorporate major infrastructure changes (e.g., we upgraded the underlying operating system software in 1999),
  • to accommodate changes in the bibliographic world beyond Harvard (e.g., new LCCN format and RLIN character set changes)
  • to link HOLLIS to new university systems (Accounts payable and Accounts receivable)
  • we introduced the web interface to the OPAC in 1998 and revised in 1999,
  • libraries continue to conduct smart barcoding projects and batch load items
  • several new libraries have started using HOLLIS circulation and/or reserves.
  • New sources for bibliographic data fed into either the union catalog (HU) or the resource file (BF) have been successfully added to our repertoire

New support and training guidelines

The new OIS support guidelines for the HOLLIS ILS limit work to activities that support normal daily operations. There are cutoffs after which new bibliographic feeds and barcoding projects will not be accepted. With the exception of the Pinyin conversion project, OIS does not anticipate any major changes will be needed to the HOLLIS ILS before migration to Aleph in July 2002. Any exceptions to the limitations described below would need approval from the Aleph Steering Committee.

Type of support activity:

What OIS will do:

Significant bugs in the system which would result in major loss of productivity and for which no reasonable workaround can be defined

Continue to support as needed

Major or minor developments: including any changes to program code

Complete Pinyin conversion in spring 2001; no other changes accepted unless cleared by Steering Committee

Smart barcoding and batch item loads

No new requests accepted after August 31, 2001; OIS work must be complete by December 31, 2001

Implementation of HOLLIS circulation and/or course reserves in new units

No new requests accepted.

New data loads

No new bibliographic batch feeds will be added to our processing stream after June 30, 2001

Reporting projects which require substantial time (more than 30 minutes) from Martha and which are not directly related to HOLLIS conversion

No new requests accepted after August 31, 2001

Training in HOLLIS functions

Offer selected "popular" sessions less frequently between July and Dec; stop centralized training by end of 2001

Contact Tracey Robinson in OIS if you have questions. Ì


Under development

Aleph Implementation Project -- status report

Much progress have we seen on the Aleph implementation front. The following details cover Harvard's test system, system enhancements, and formation of project teams. See also separate articles on data conversion challenges and the staff training program.

Harvard's Aleph test system

Harvard's Aleph test system is up and running on a server in OIS. Ex Libris and Harvard project staff are reconfiguring the test system to give it more of a Harvard look (adding Harvard library locations, codes for collections, acquisitions, etc.). OIS has tested conversion and loading of a modest number of bibliographic and authority records, working out many "kinks" along the way. All this is in preparation for the first official "subset" load of Harvard data in May, which will include some 80,000 bibliographic records with associated holdings and items (and some authority records). Details about conversion and a profile of records in Subset 1 appears in Aleph conversion challenges (a separate article in this issue).

Harvard enhancements to Aleph

Harvard enhancements to Aleph are progressing through the specification stage. Several ad hoc task groups have been working with Ex Libris to finalize the design of developments in these areas:

Indexing -- changes to insure well-ordered displays of search results.
Financial processing -- support for Harvard's 33-digit accounting structure.
Holdings -- full support for MARC21 holdings and facility for creating coherent displays of items and holdings information in the Public Catalog.
Harvard Depository -- support a sensible request process and smooth transfer of requests from Aleph to HD.
Patrons -- improvements to billing.
Aleph desktop clients -- redesign to improve usability; prototypes now for circulation and serials clients with acquisitions and cataloging next in line.
Non-Roman characters -- support for input and display of Chinese/Japanese/Korean characters; developments in this area will likely continue past our July 2002 implementation date.
Resource files -- support for loading and use of resource files (similar to BF database in our current world).

Project staff appointed

Players in the Aleph implementation saga keep increasing as implementation teams, project liaisons and other groups are appointed. Nine implementation teams have been set up to work on specific functional areas of Aleph. A combined 58 staff members from these teams are becoming Aleph functional experts while working on data conversion, system configuration, system testing, and functional workflows.

There is also an OIS technical team meeting weekly to coordinate data conversion and system configuration activities. Members include Project co-Managers: Tracey Robinson, Kathleen Anderson, and Caren Smith; along with OIS staff sitting on those nine implementation teams. Much of the technical "heavy lifting" related to conversion and loading of data is being done by Charles Husbands and Rich Wenger, with assistance from their Ex Libris counterparts. (By the way, a hearty welcome to Rich, who recently joined OIS to help with this project.)

A Project Liaison has been appointed for each Harvard library (multiple liaisons for some of the largest units). During this project, lots of information will need to flow between OIS and the libraries. Project liaisons are responsible for facilitating this information flow and representing the interests of their libraries during the implementation process. A kickoff meeting for liaisons was held on April 25th; their next monthly meeting is scheduled for May 24th. Initial tasks for liaisons include gathering information about local practices as part of a data cleanup project and assisting with a staff training needs survey.

Members of a new Training Advisory Group (TAG) have begun planning an Aleph staff training program. This group is charged with oversight of the planning, development, and delivery of training and support materials to assist library staff in using Aleph. During late May and early June, members plan to survey each library on its individual staff training needs.

Overseeing activities of all these groups is the Aleph Implementation Steering Committee. The library administrators in this group (formerly known as the HOLLIS Steering Committee) appoint project participants and provide high-level direction and approval for project activities. Members "steer" at twice-monthly meetings. Ì

Aleph conversion challenges

As part of installation of Aleph at Harvard, OIS will perform a series of record loads into Aleph to test the conversion programs, to test indexing, and to perform other systems-related testing. The goal is to be able to convert all types of data at once and in synch for Aleph Day 1 (July 1st 2002). This will not be an easy task, given the enormous size and complexity of our data. Our chances of success improve greatly the better we know our current data and data practices. What follows includes descriptions of planned test loads, data cleanup projects, and efforts to identify "creative" data practices in the HOLLIS ILS.

Test load schedule

Test record loads are classified as "subsets" or "full" loads and two of each have been scheduled.


Load type

Load includes

May 2001

Subset #1

80,000 bibs with associated holdings, items, authorities. See the Subset #1 profile.

September 2001

Subset #2

Subset #1 records plus orders, serial check-in, funds, vendors, patrons

January 2002

Full load #1

All HOLLIS data including circulation data and testing of "gap" processing

April 2002

Full load #2

The basis for Harvard's July 1st 2002 implementation of Aleph

Aside from these official test loads, there may be additional re-loads of data as required for testing and troubleshooting purposes. OIS expects to augment subset #2 with additional bibliographic records based on outcomes of testing subset #1, and to accommodate testing of new functionality in development. Library staff should contact Helen Schmierer in OIS with any additional suggestions of data for the second subset.

January 2002 is the date scheduled for the first full load of all HOLLIS data, including circulation data and testing of "gap" processing. (This "gap" includes records created and updated in HOLLIS after April 2002 but before July 1.) The second full load, scheduled for April 2002, will be the basis for Harvard's Aleph system that goes into production on July 1st. Records created or updated after this second load will be part of the "gap" data processed right before July 1.

Identifying creative uses of HOLLIS/HULPR

It is important to remember that there are differences in the data models for Aleph and HOLLIS. Although OIS intends to convert all current, useful HOLLIS data into Aleph and to "map" it into Aleph in logical ways, it is likely we will not be 100 percent successful in all cases. In the case of standard MARC data, this process is relatively straightforward. Not so straightforward are cases of non-standard formats such as orders, items, vendors, patrons, etc.

OIS is particularly interested in learning of "creative" uses of HOLLIS/HULPR that may deliver surprises in Aleph. Such "creative" uses include using HOLLIS/HULPR fields for data other than for which they were intended (e.g., using call number subfields to designate processing status such as ORDERED-RECEIVED). Among other things, knowing of these uses will allow OIS to put this data where it belongs in Aleph terms.

OIS will be distributing a questionnaire to Aleph Project Liaisons this spring to gather information on local data practices.

Data cleanup efforts

OIS will also be identifying data "cleanup" projects. Some data cleanup may be possible as part of the programmatic conversion process, but the responsibility may fall to individual libraries in some cases.

The first such effort involves a close look at local uses of the HOLLIS location subfield $c (text before call number) to express collection names (e.g., Reference, Microfiche). In HOLLIS, there are no system restrictions on length or content of LOC $c. In Aleph, every valid collection name (maximum 80 characters) must be entered in a table. OIS has distributed lists of current subfield $c collection names used by each library. Libraries (through their Aleph project liaisons) have been asked to respond with a complete list of all subfield $c forms they will continue to use (as well as forms no longer used and errors that need correcting). The due date for subfield $c lists is 30 May.

OIS plans to survey project liaisons to gather information on other potential areas for data cleanup. Library staff with suggestions about potential cleanup projects can contact Kathleen Anderson in OIS or send a message using the AIP comment facility. Ì

Aleph staff training -- call for trainers

The Aleph Implementation Project is now seeking library staff to participate in the development and delivery of a staff training program. There are two roles defined for this program -- trainers and training "facilitators". Library administrators have been asked to nominate staff for the role of trainer -- nominations are due by 30 May 2001. A separate call for training "facilitators" will occur later this year. More information about the Aleph staff training program follows. Staff interested in the role of trainer or training facilitator should review the Responsibilities, Qualifications, and How to get involved sections of this article. If you have questions, feel free to contact Julie Wetherill in OIS.

Training program goals

The program's primary goal will be to prepare library staff to use Aleph 500 client functions necessary to their jobs. A secondary goal would be to prepare public services staff to support the needs of Harvard faculty and student end-users of the new system.

The major strategies for attaining these goals include developing:

  • pre-implementation (March-June 2002) instruction on Aleph functions,
  • opportunities to practice skills learned from instruction,
  • supporting materials (documentation such as references, job aids and the like) to allow staff to support themselves back on the job, and
  • post-implementation instruction to accommodate staff needs not covered before July 14, fill gaps in learning, refresh skills, and cover changes from system upgrades.

Trainer responsibilities

Early estimates suggest that we will need 18-22 trainers plus 20-30 training facilitators in the staff training program. Trainers will assist in course development and provide classroom instruction. Facilitators will receive early Aleph training (December/January 2002) and assist in the classroom in the spring of 2002.

It is estimated that trainers will need to commit an average of 25% of their time to the project starting in the summer of 2001. However, the more trainers we recruit, the smaller the average time commitment will be for each individual. The table below indicates estimates of trainer time commitments for each of the six major phases of the training program.

Timeframe Activity Estimated time commitment

July - August 2001

Ex Libris functional training for Trainers

Total of 1-6 training days, depending on functional area

August - November 2001

Develop course curriculum

30% (1.5 days per week)

December 2001-January 2002

Presentation skills workshop; train facilitators

20% (1 day per week)

January - March 2002

Revise course curriculum; assist with documentation development

20% (1 day per week)

March - June 2002

Pre-implementation training

40% (2 days per week)

July - December 2002

Post-implementation training

10-20% (.5-1 day per week)

When training facilitators are activated in the Winter 2001/2002 timeframe, we expect their commitment to be on average 1 day per week (20%).

Qualifications for Trainers

  • 2-3 years experience in designated functional area
  • able to devote a significant amount of time to the project
  • ability to work in a group environment
  • at least 1 year at Harvard preferred

Experience in training and writing functional documentation are desirable, but not required. In addition to appropriate Aleph functional training, a presentation skills workshop will be offered to all training participants. Nominations are open to both exempt and non-exempt staff.

How to get involved

The Aleph Implementation Steering Committee will appoint staff to roles in the training program, based on recommendations from administrators in each library. Libraries have been asked to submit nominations for trainers by 30 May 2001. Nominations for facilitators will be requested later this year. If you are interested in being an Aleph trainer, talk to your supervisor. If you have questions, contact Julie Wetherill in OIS. Ì


Notes & reminders

New on the OIS web site

More information about the Aleph implementation project is now available from the OIS web site. This includes a project timeline identifying major project milestones, sections describing implementation teams and project liaisons, and preliminary information on plans for staff Aleph training. Ì


URLs in this issue

End of Fiscal Year memo:

Aleph implementation project website:

Aleph implementation teams:

AIP Project Liaisons for Harvard libraries:

Aleph Training Advisory Group (TAG):

Aleph Implementation Steering Committee:

AIP project timeline:

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